The Couvent des Jacobins is a magical place. Perched high on the plateau, indeed in the medieval township of St.-Émilion itself, its contents are secreted away behind an imposing entrance. Through the door and to the back you are in a very charming sheltered ‘garden of prayers’, the cloisters of the couvent surrounding it. It’s a surprising and very special spot. Below this lie an extensive series of cellars – St.-Émilion literally having been hewn from below ground, and its warm-tone buildings built from the limestone removed to make the cellars… or is it vice versa? A double-benefit, certainly.
For centuries the wines of this estate were made by the Dominican order of friars – the Frères Prêcheurs Jacobins, and with close ties to England, the wine was served at royal weddings. For the past 116 years the Couvent des Jacobins has been owned by the Joinaud and Jean families and this evening we will be joined by its proprietor, Xavier Jean.
I met Xavier during the 2016 vintage en primeurs in April 2017. I was impressed by the classic not-over-the-top style of Couvents des Jacobins. This Grand Cru Classé wine comes from 10.7ha of vineyards on the limestone plateau itself, and soils varying on clay / limestone / and sand composition, 80% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot on average. 2023 being the Year of the Rabbit, Xavier has pulled from his cellar some library vintages also from Years of the Rabbit – 2011, 1999, 1987 and 1975. These bottles have never moved from the cellar at the Couvent des Jacobins prior to this evening’s dinner.
But there is also another very special small cuvée made called Calicem, that debuted with the 2015 vintage. Calicem is made in a special way, in demi-muid, and from a 1ha plot they purchased in 2015, planted in 1961-1962 with old clones of 100% Merlot giving naturally low yields. Only around 250 cases are made each year. Calicem – the tiny vineyard and small “chateau” and winery, lie in one of the most prestigious parts of St.-Emilion, next to first growth, Angelus. We have been following, and supporting this project since the first vintage, and this evening includes a vertical of five vintages.
All this at A Lux for a very special price, so please be quick to secure your seats, and we look forward to welcoming you there.
French Beef Tartare, Quail Egg, Avocado
Quail, Foie Gras Mushroom and Natural Jus
Risotto, Confit Duck Leg
Couvent des Jacobins 2011
USDA Ribeye, Shallots Jus
Couvent des Jacobins 1999
Couvent des Jacobins 1987
Couvent des Jacobins 1975